Heating, cooling, agitation/mixing, and pumping are all everyday laboratory tasks that need electrically powered equipment. Other power-driven laboratory equipment includes vacuum pumps, submersible stirrers, x-ray machines, heating mantles, autoclaves, microwave ovens, and ultrasonicators. The mechanical and electrical dangers associated with this equipment must be considered when operating the laboratory equipment.
What is the Risk
A significant danger with powered laboratory equipment is electric shock, which may be fatal. Although a very modest current of 10 mA might not be that dangerous, 80 to 100 mA currents can be lethal. Electrical equipment may also ignite flammable or explosive gases if utilized incorrectly.
The following are measures you can take to ensure safety in the laboratory when handling equipment that runs on electricity:
Knowledge of Proper Use
A comprehensive grasp of the proper usage of the equipment can significantly reduce most of the electrical hazards.
All laboratory workers or students should be instructed and educated in the correct usage of all electrical power sources and the placement of emergency shutdown switches before any work begins.
Installation, modification, and maintenance of electronic laboratory equipment must be done with extreme care.
There must be adherence to the National Electrical Code (NEC) and other state codes to guarantee the safe functioning of electrical equipment.
Skilled and certified technicians must perform all electrical equipment repairs and calibrations. Electrical equipment must be de-energized and all capacitors safely drained before any modification, installation, or repair work begins.
Before installing any equipment, it is necessary to confirm that the device is de-energized or discharged. Safety in the laboratory begins with you. Understanding the steps of securing yourself is the first place to start. Remember, a laboratory with qualified technicians is safe because they can provide oversight and correct any issues when they occur.